The multiuse space concept is as old as man's first dedicated public spaces. Therefore, the idea of having a floor that can be picked-up and removed to accommodate another activity or event utilizing the same space isn't new, rather it is and has been a common thread in public space design.
Many people around the world marvel at the beauty of a new hardwood sports floor, but few realize how much knowledge and engineering are required to provide visual beauty, to deliver performance and safety for the athletes, and to give the owner a long lasting quality surface. The type of hardwood, its color and grade, proper sanding, painting of game lines, borders, logos, and finishing all contribute towards the visual beauty. Performance and safety are achieved through a myriad of subfloor construction methods and an endless supply of cushioning options. Life cycle or longevity of the floor can exceed the life of a building providing the interior of the building has proper environmental controls and simple maintenance recommendations are followed. The species or type of hardwood can also affect the longevity as well as the performance and aesthetics.
This seems to be the one of the most common questions asked about gymnasium floors. These gaps are referred to as intermediate expansion spaces or washer rows. Wood flooring is a material that expands or contracts when moisture is absorbed into or evaporated from the flooring. These spaces allow the flooring to move incrementally across the floor in smaller units as opposed to one wide unit moving back and forth at the perimeter walls. The term "washer row" is used because of the method that was used to keep the expansion space open until the flooring was nailed. As the installers would nail the flooring, they would use a thin metal washer between the flooring strips, as needed, to create an intermediate expansion space in the rows of flooring. Newer methods of creating this gap have been utilized by using a nylon string or "weed eater" line that is removed as the flooring is installed.